Director: David Fincher
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Missi Pyle, Casey Wilson, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, Kim Dickens
Rated: R (a scene of bloody violence, some strong sexual content/nudity, and language)
With his wife’s disappearance having become the focus of an intense media circus, a man sees the spotlight turned on him when it’s suspected that he may not be innocent.
By Cole Schneider
“Gone Girl” is a pulpy thriller-noir from David Fincher (“Zodiac”, “The Social Network”) that takes us inside the psyches of a married couple on the brink. It is darkly and quietly hilarious, and always riveting. It’s a film about lies. It’s a film about the lies between spouses, the lies between friends and family, and lies from the media. It’s also a film that doesn’t shy away from its feminism. Co-lead, Amy (Rosamund Pike in a tremendous performance), makes a wonderfully subversive speech about the “cool girl”, which undermines mens objectivity of women.
Yet the crux of the film is built around something incredibly objectionable–especially for women. With all of its twists and turns, I certainly can’t say what that is here, but it’s something that is culturally urgent with a lot of recent media coverage and it has bothered me more and more as I think about the message of the film. Ultimately, the message is the promotion of a lie itself, one that is already deeply ingrained in the fabric of society and one that needs to be attacked rather than given support by a box-office hit with Oscar potential.
Is the movie well-made? Absolutely. Is the mystery engaging? Without a doubt. Is the humor fun? Constantly. But there is more to filmmaking. There is a social responsibility and “Gone Girl”, in my estimation, has failed in this highest regard. Full disclosure, I find similar issues with Fincher’s “Fight Club”, which everyone else adores. So maybe it’s just me, but this is a far more egregious misstep.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
By Matt Greene
To describe the plot of Gone Girl as “nuts” would be more than precise. Starting as a fairly rudimentary mystery, it becomes a twisting, twisted study of marital vows that keeps you guessing…and rarely accurately. Do not be fooled, however; GG has problems. First, its identity: Is it a tense mystery, a comedic satire of media, a critique of the American family, or a messy mix of all of those? Second, its message: To say that the film has a pessimistic view of marriage is an understatement. Nonetheless, when focused on its strengths (enigmatic plotting, tense character arcs), GG will twist your heart right into your throat.
The plot is impossible to fully describe spoiler-free. At its base, it’s the story of a husband reeling from the disappearance of his wife and his own accused involvement. Other than some jarring overacting (ie “Nancy Grace”-inspired pundit, crazed neighbor), the performances are strong. Affleck is a protagonist that’s hard to root for, but I’m not sure we’re really being asked to. He does a commendable job, leading us to analyze his every decision. There are stellar performances by Coon as Affleck’s sister, Dickens as the detective, and Perry as the Cochran-like defense lawyer. The breakout however, and clear Oscar front-runner, is Pike, turning in a complex and disciplined performance as the titular Gone Girl.
Fincher is a darkly-visionary director, and his murky eye is ever-present in this brooding universe. It only falters when he reaches to play in sweetness and wit, confusing the tone. Overall though, GG is a dark, foreboding crime-thriller that is much too big and imposing to ignore.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars